Ethan’s hand reaches over to squash the blare. Before he can fall back into the comfort of Kermit’s monstrously large, green dreamy arms, Jen starts in on him.
“I’m sick of it,” she says. “Every…God…damn…day. You hit the snooze.”
“Then I hit the grind,” Ethan mumbles. Without looking up, he knows she’s fully engaged in a militant crossed arm stance.
“Grind? More like a mad dash for coffee.”
His voice warbles. “So?”
“Beans pilfered from peasants, pressed, then poured into non-biodegradable Styrofoam.” Jen harrumphs.
Ethan blinks and thinks about how soon he’ll be in his corner office, polishing the tip-top show off presentation that he’s been slaving over, the newest strategy to screw another hundred people out of their precious money. He imagines stacks of fifties just sitting around in a bank vault waiting for him. He need only charm it away from those who have too much. A few words here, an analogy there. Maybe a lunch or two and then…then it will be all his.
Jen rattles on about diminished crop yields and poisoned aquifers. She shrieks that he’s turning into a worthless shit suit, one of those biting, hissing messes who’d rather fill their home with anything but the tick tick tick let’s have a baby now before it’s too late.
So, she’s back to that. “I thought you wanted to travel,” Ethan cajoles.
“We never go anywhere.”
The alarm chirps again and Ethan shuts it off. He stretches, turns, and says, “Okay, either I go to work and do what I’m good at -- making the big bucks; OR drive my car to the dealership and trade it in for a boat.”
“You’re not serious,” Jen says.
“I am. We’ll do it. See the seas. Breathe non-polluted air. Finally be free. Without the stress, maybe we’ll get pregnant.”
She uncrosses her thin arms. “You’d never get rid of your Mercedes.”
“Neither would you.”
“Maybe I should get rid of you.”
“Who’s going to love you any better?” He kisses her cheek then leaves wondering if she already has someone in reserve.
Ethan thought his first million was supposed to take care of these feelings that he was no better than anyone else. Outside the condo, he notices a weed growing through the crumbled sidewalk. It’s a dandelion in bloom. He pauses to admire its tenacity, bends over, twists the pinnate leaves, then pulls the unwanted thing out by its roots. A peal of curse words ring out when he sees the milky stain it leaves behind on his hand.
One hundred million dollars, Ethan decides. The next goal. If he can accomplish that, he can do anything. He knows that will make him whole. King of the Shit Suited Universe. He nods, then lets the withering flower go.
published 12 March 2016